The internet never forgets. You might have happily published those drunken pictures on social networks during your university days, those candid moments with your ex before you got married to someone else and those revolutionary views about the changing the world on your blog.
Now, after so many years of migrating into a different stage of life; when you do not necessarily want to revert to those old days; suddenly someone found an old trace of yours on a social network and discovered an entirely different side of yours, not to mention what if that person happens to be your life partner to whom you pretended you did not hide anything?
The outcome of subjective content available on the Internet is risky – so much so that – it has proven to affect people’s reputation, affect their personal, social and business profile, and a number of rulings across the world have been upheld till date in favor of the right to be forgotten.
This article will cover some of the most important things about the law, how it affects our lives, and how the integral concept of privacy and censorship collide with each other to develop a world populated with contrasting opinions about content relevancy.
Table of Content
1. Definition of privacy
Privacy is a state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people. It is the ability to remain to yourself; without having to expose to others. It is a state in which you determine whether, when, how, and to whom one’s personal and organizational information is to be revealed. Generally, privacy can be categorized into four categories namely physical, informational, decision and disposition. Simply put, privacy is the ability of an individual to keep his/her personal information and personality free of others and remains himself and herself.
On the Internet, privacy is a major concern such as –
What personal information can be shared with whom?
If a message about a subject can be replaced or exchanged without the consent of the subject?
2. Definition of censorship
Censorship blocks something from being heard, read or seen. If you’ve ever heard the sound of beep when someone is speaking on the television, this is censorship in action.
On the Internet, censorship might refer to the act of deleting any content – either text or visual or any other format – from the server where the content was originally hosted.
3. How privacy and censorship collide?
The problem with sharing information online is that after you’ve published something, it remains forever online. Okay; the content might be removed depending on many cases – such as expiry of the domain, deletion from the server, request or ruling for pulling down the information etc. But unless it is completely removed from the server – such as after adhering to the ruling of a court – the information might still leave its trail so that anyone can access it in the future.
This is a potential problem and indeed a huge issue. In many cases, it has been seen that people who once had news about them reflecting any negativity about them – are still suffering and being affected since that old information about them is still available online. That’s why the issue has been many a time taken into the court and in many cases, courts have passed the ruling in favor of the subject who needs the information available against him or her online removed.
4. The need for privacy and censorship
On a closer inspection, it is logical for anyone to expect Google, Facebook, and other Internet giants who offer a launch pad for sharing personally identifiable information to remove content if it affects the personality, and social reputation of the subject.
However; in some cases, if a content is relevant in public domain and do favor common good of the humanity in large and poses no risks rather offers benefits for public and do not necessarily affect the status and reputation of the subject concerned; the information can still be kept online, as some critics say.
But if the content, as mentioned above, affect one’s personal status quo and not relevant for the common public but is still affecting the reputation of the subject concerned, the subject has absolute authority to request and expect removal of the content and logical grounds to expect money as compensation from the Internet source – if the Internet source where the content was published is not removed – even after a ruling from court.
5. Concluding remarks
The ruling in favor of the subjects across the world for the protection of information rights and the right to be forgotten has taken by a storm. It is the basic rights of the people to stay anonymous if they choose to be so. It has been seen across the world that if the subject is experiencing problems regarding personal life and the threat of life and or social status is exist; the right to be forgotten should be clearly upheld and it should be cultured across the world.
The websites collect personal information and they run because people publish their information with them. If their users stop publishing content on these sites, they would cease to exist. Therefore; it is the right of a person to expect his or her content to be removed and the duty of the websites such as Facebook and Google to remove the content requested. When the request is backed by a ruling from the court; they should immediately adhere to the ruling to stay relevant in the online world and to continue to be treated as a genuine and credible source of information website that does not necessarily violate privacy and respect its users.